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How to deal with patients who have dementia

We find that among the most challenging patients we have to deal with are those suffering from dementia. Because they have lost most of their memory, comprehension, thinking and judgment, issues such as frequent cancellations and uncooperative attitude arise. It is very difficult for a therapist to implement a regular exercise regimen when the patient has fluctuating moods. Most often than not, sessions are either cancelled or unproductive.

But, in our years of experience dealing with seniors who have dementia, we have learned what is needed to be successful in helping them achieve their goals.

Be compassionate. Seniors experiencing gradual loss of control may feel defensive or combative. Therapists should make them feel that they are still in control as to what exercises they can participate in or when they should be done. Being compassionate means feeling what they are feeling.

Be flexible. It can be disappointing when the exercise regimen the therapist prepared is not followed. When this happens, flexibility is the key. A good therapist knows how to adapt exercises to the current situation of the patient. However, no matter how creative a therapist is, a patient with dementia can still get irritated and aggressive. In such cases, stopping the therapy is the best thing to do. Our philosophy is "healing comes from within." So, if the patient is no longer cooperative or has decided to stop therapy, we believe it is better to respect the patient's wishes. Therefore, we do our best to educate the patient and the family regarding this matter. It may be that the patient needs a companion rather than a therapist. The companion can, then, encourage the patient to walk which will also help maintain mobility.

Communicate regularly with the patient's caregivers. Open communication is the key in making any treatment for dementia patients successful. It has to be a team effort. Be clear about the care plan and the challenges being faced in implementing it.

These are just some of the things that a therapist should bear in mind when helping seniors with dementia. It can be challenging to deal with dementia patients but it can also be rewarding seeing them improve in their physical well-being inspite of having cognitive impairment.

We are committed to doing our best in helping seniors suffering from dementia and we have skilled therapists who have lots of experience in this.

To inquire about our services, please call 604-338-4912 or email

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